Continued from yesterday’s first installment…
“Choosing A College – Establishing Criteria”
by Patrick Carver
When I agreed on my criteria, the list of schools dramatically changed. Each person has a unique set of tastes, needs, and interests that they enjoy. It is important that you create criteria that reflect you and your interests. Do you enjoy being in large cities or small ones? Do you like being around your family or as far away as possible? Do you want to play right away or are you ok with waiting a few years for your turn? Do you want a big school or a small one? Create a list with about 20-25 possible schools. Research those schools, call their coach, attend the summer camp at one of your top choices, talk to other coaches and try to get a feel for what type of institution you are looking at. A great resource to use is the Sport Source College Guide (link provided on right). This book has detailed information about virtually every soccer program in the country and it will help you narrow your choices without having to do a lot of research yourself.
Probably the biggest thing to keep in mind is to keep an open mind. Be uncompromising when it comes to your goals and aspirations, just don’t be set on one exclusive way to accomplish those goals.
Another crucial component of selecting a college is to be realistic. The truth is that there is a college out there for everyone who wants to play soccer. However, the levels of these colleges are incredibly varied and sometimes exclusive. It is important for you as the player to get a true reflection of your playing abilities so you know where you will best fit inside the college game.
A great way to get an accurate reading of your ability is to go to an experienced coach, whether that is your club, ODP, or camp coach. These coaches are almost always incredibly nice and very honest. They will tell you whether or not you should be holding out for your scholarship to Indiana or it might be better to start looking elsewhere. When I was early in the recruiting process I asked a coach if he thought I could play at Stanford. I learned that I could play at Stanford and be on the team but I wasn’t developed enough as a player to make a large impact. I learned from that and re-tooled the type of schools I was looking at. Be realistic about how much time you will be playing your first year and subsequent years afterwards because it could affect your decision if you are a player that wants to come in and play right away.
It’s best when you are able to get advice from someone who doesn’t have a direct stake in you. What I mean by that is don’t ask for advice from a coach that is trying to recruit you. While the coach may not be trying to manipulate you, he/she will no doubt try to get you to attend his or her institution because it is their job after all. Try and get as many opinions as you can because that will help you get a good feeling about your college soccer choice. I recommend getting these evaluations as soon and often as possible because it gives you time to improve if you are not happy with your level of performance. Once you have a good idea about your level of play you can find out what schools are appropriate for you. Don’t be turned away from sending information to schools that might be out of your league just remember to cover all bases and don’t get caught without a backup plan. Just like any sport, there is select group of schools that gets to handpick the best and brightest athletes in the country. These schools are highly selective and don’t cater to everyone. Going to these highly selective schools means that you need to be prepared for a lot of hard work. Think seriously about the level of commitment you are willing to put in over the next four years.
The entire process of looking for a college is rather daunting. The key to taking control of your recruitment process is to prepare early. A lot of student athletes get passed over and don’t end up at the college they would have liked to go to only because they weren’t organized enough.
There is a place for you to play soccer; you just have to work a little bit to find out where it is. Ask coaches as much as possible because soccer is what they do for a living. I would never have found Emory, the school I will be playing soccer for in the fall, without the help of my coach Jeremy Alumbaugh. The school I had vaguely heard of before turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more. You can find your perfect school as well, just be prepared to put in the work.
Part 2 will be available next Wednesday. Be sure and come back and don’t forget to offer your thoughts via the ‘Comments’ button below this article!